Advancing Canada’s Innovation Mandate
Over the past few decades, Canada’s innovation ranking among our peer nations has been a concern for the Canadian government and business executives alike. Most of Canada’s efforts to rectify this dilemma have been targeted at the Information and Communications Technology sector.
Granted, this segment of Canada’s economy is vital to our growth and economic sustainability. Yet, as many of our peer nations have demonstrated, there is an incremental opportunity to improve Canada’s innovation ranking. As Christyn Cianfarani wrote in a Globe and Mail article, driving more innovation through government defence procurement would be an effective strategy to put us on a level playing field with our allies.
Ms. Cianfarani also stated, the Canadian defence industry is ideally suited to do so with 30% of those employed in the sector being skilled Engineers, Scientists, Technicians, Technology professionals and Researchers. In addition, 60% of revenues from the Canadian defence industry already come from exports, which is 20% higher than the average manufacturing sector.
Some defence related firms already have global networks in place that can ease the exporting process and open new opportunities outside our borders. Babcock Canada is a good example. Headquartered in Ottawa, Babcock Canada is not only a trusted partner of the Royal Canadian Navy but is also a leading innovator in Canada. On a larger scale, the extended Babcock family has a successful history of fostering a culture of innovation across six continents including many of Canada’s allies like Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
A Proven Innovative Partner for Naval In-Service Support
Entrusted with the complete lifecycle engineering support for Canada’s fleet of Victoria Class submarines since 2008, Babcock Canada has had to develop many innovative methods and products to service this unique fleet of naval vessels. To add to the challenge, submarines are widely regarded as the most complex pieces of technology in Canada’s Defence arsenal.
By way of example, Babcock has recently demonstrated how innovative products and techniques developed by government contractors can provide significant benefit to the local economy. Babcock’s newly patented Vent Gas Cooler (VGC™) system which enables the enhanced refrigeration and handling of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) products while minimizing hydrocarbon emissions providing an additional ecological benefit. This new innovative product is now actively exported to ship owners around the world. Also related, is the Babcock technology SuperCooler™ and FGSV0™ products which go a step further providing a true ‘zero-emissions’ solution for liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply vessels.
These products in part, resulted in Babcock receiving the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise twice in 2016. They received the first award for Innovation, and subsequently received a second award for best practice performance in the LPG sector. It is rare for a single company to receive this award twice in a single year.
Innovation Moving Canada Forward
Leveraging Babcock Canada’s more than 350 specialists, innovation developed locally has readily been adapted for wider commercial applications and then exported to ally partners. Exports made easier because of Babcock Canada’s ability to tap into their global family of more than 34,000 specialists.
As this trend continues, Canada will continue to develop a reputation as a hub of innovation, attract global attention and draw the top minds in the industry. Countries such as the U.S., France, Australia, Sweden and Britain have already begun receiving benefiting from key strategic investments into the research and development of defence-related technology.
To develop these industrial and technological benefits further, Babcock Canada has identified and supported new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) based trades training initiatives which has been based on their highly successful STEM graduate competition in the UK. This next generation of trades personnel can bring a fresh, leading edge perspective but only if there is an open culture of innovation that accepts and encourages it.
To this end, the Canadian government is actively working to define the future direction of the Department of National Defence, and how best to leverage DND procurements and contractor partnerships to play a significant role in helping advance Canada’s innovation mandate. Trusted partners like Babcock Canada continue to demonstrate that investment in equipment, services and technology for defence and can in fact produce strategic benefits beyond improving Canada’s military.